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Miss America contest dumps swimsuit, evening wear; won't judge on physical appearance at all

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Gretchen Carlson, chairwoman of the board of trustees of the Miss America Organization, told ABC's "Good Morning America" that Miss America is no longer a pageant, but instead a competition.

Carlson, a former Miss America herself, also revealed that the swimsuit portion of the long-running contest would be omitted going forward.

What are the details?

Instead of running a swimsuit competition, the organization will feature "a live interactive session with the judges," the show reported, according to the organization.

The competition's contestants — representatives of all 50 U.S. states — "will be asked to demonstrate their passion, intelligence and overall understanding of the job of Miss America," the show reported.

Further, the evening gown segment of the competition will also no longer be required.

Contestants will instead be permitted to wear clothing that makes them feel "confident, expresses their personal style and shows how they hope to advance the role of Miss America."

"We’ve heard from a lot of young women who say, 'We’d love to be a part of your program but we don’t want to be out there in high heels and a swimsuit,' so guess what, you don’t have to do that anymore," Carlson said. "Who doesn’t want to be empowered, learn leadership skills and pay for college and be able to show the world who you are as a person from the inside of your soul."

"That’s what we’re judging them on now," she added.

Why the change?

Carlson noted that the changes aim to foster a more "inclusive" and "transparent" environment within the competition, and hopefully be more appealing to a younger audience.

"We are now open, inclusive and transparent and I want to inspire thousands of young people across this country to come and be a part of our program," she told "GMA."

"We want you and we want to celebrate your accomplishments and your talents and then we want to hand you scholarships," she added.

The 2019 Miss America Competition is set to air at 9 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9 on ABC.

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